The eight year term is now the maximum allowed under the new rules of the CBA. In January, Travis Zajac was able to garnish such a contract of that length and with the cap hit size that goes along with an eight year contract you HAVE to assume a team knows what it is going to get out of that player. Want to hear some cap hit comparables? Lucic, Franzen, Jordan Staal, Pavelski, Perron, Parenteau, and even Giroux (Yuck, Philly). Not a bad list, right? Well here is the “bad” part of it, Zajac on the year has four goals, three assists, is a zero plus/minus, and has no/none/zip/zilch special teams points.
In the past month alone Zajac has alone produced two goals, two assists, and is a +/- rating of (-3). Leaving everyone in New Jersey scratching our heads and asking ourselves “Are we witnessing Travis struggling or is this life post-Parise on his line?” But I think we are getting what we should have been expecting with Travis (Maybe a bit less than what we expected). Travis is a great two-way player in the NHL, but the guy was never a sniper or premium playmaker by NHL standards. He is a Devil, he plays like a Devil, and it's in his DNA. He knows it and Lou knows it. And thats why it was easy deciding he should stay here for the next decade. Is he worth upwards of almost 50 million? No.
Lets be real for a second. Does he play hard? Absolutely. Can he play both ends of the ice? Absolutely. But has Zajac ever blown you off the the Scoring Summary Reports? No. I think Zajac is the right type of player to fit in between guys that can jump off the ice at you. He is a complementary type player. You do not put on a Zajac on a line and find players to fit Zajac’s skill set, you put a Zajac on a line to fit a Kovalchuk’s skill set. You Follow?
A big problem here is that the Devils do not have a lot of offensive depth and it has been showing the past couple of weeks. If we mash up the Devils top two profile players (Zaj and Kovster) on one line and it doesn’t produce? Yikes... Yes, we are that thin. Yes.. I know who Henrique and Clarky are, but did you know Clarkson hasn’t scored a goal since Feb 15? Just about a month ago, #ClarksonAWOL? That is why Kovy plays with Lokti and Ponik, which may be the least intimidating line Kovy has ever played on.
Which is why this team has Dany Heatley rumors following them. In Lou we trust, of course, but I’d imagine four goals is not what he anticipated from Zajac this year. I think a problem many fans and front office’s can have is that we tend to overvalue or overrate some players after a nice playoff run. And 2012-13 was such a sweeeet playoff run too, so sweet Zajac cashed in on it. The burning question will be, was Zajac worth it come the offseason because remember our own upcoming FA list which will include, Elias, Zub, Clark, Henrique, Ponik, and Lokti.